(US); 1999; Rated R; 120 Minutes
Anthony Hopkins: Ethan Powell
Cuba Gooding Jr.: Dr. Theo Caulder
Donald Sutherland: Ben Hillard
Maura Tierney: Lyn Hillard
Produced by Michael
Taylor and Barbara Boyle; Directed by John Turteltaub;
Screenwritten by Gerald DiPego
by DAVID KEYES
sets us up with a plot that is shrouded in confusion. It
tells us of a man who went into the jungle, was pronounced
missing, turned up two years later, and went completely
nuts on the people who crossed his path. Judging by the
director's treatment of this story, Anthony Hopkins wasn't
the only one who went ape.
film is wretched beyond description; an act of lousy writing,
feeble-minded directing, contrived suspense, ungripping
twists and ripped-off psychological formulas. And it's not
even smart enough to use these formulas to the plot's advantage.
It rips the clichés right out from under the rug of much
better movies, and then expects us not to notice.
most of the complaints pale in comparison to the actors,
who stare at each other in the movie like they're experts
at a chess game, waiting for someone to shout out "checkmate."
Gooding is stiff as the psychiatrist, and Hopkins looks
more like a gorilla than an actual ape-man. His long hair
and grinning teeth are more than enough to force viewers
to shrink down in their seats, but one might have to recollect
his performance in 1991s "The Silence Of The Lambs" in order
to do so. That movie is a masterpiece. "Instinct" is an
Hopkins plays Dr. Ethan Powell, an anthropologist who journeyed
into the dank, vast jungles to study gorillas two years
ago, and was later found when he killed a couple of people
and injured some others. Taken back to the United States
and placed under the psychiatric care of a popular new doctor
named Theo Caulder (Cuba Gooding Jr.), the story slowly
reveals a personality beyond what this doctor expects. At
least, that's what the script wants us to believe.
twists are mostly borrowed from movies like "Gorillas In
The Mist," "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest" and "Suspect,"
and they are mixed together to try and create the impression
that moviegoers have never seen them before. But for those
who have seen any or all of the above films, the mixture
becomes apparent. We are quick to recognize the clichés,
especially during the conversations between Powell and Caulder,
which are evidently inspired (or ripped off) from those
between Hopkins and Jodie Foster of "The Silence Of The
Lambs." The screenplay thinks we're stupid enough to fall
for all the contrivance.
was directed by John Turteltaub, who, with films like "Phenomenon,"
has established himself as a man with no instinct of making
real solid movies. In the past, he's experienced reasonable
success with films like "Phenomenon" commercially, but not
always critically. I suspect "Instinct" carries none of
that success potential, because here, Turteltaub is not
taking any of this mature subject matter seriously. At least
with "Phenomenon," there was a reason to be silly. Here,
he is being absurd and unreasonable towards the script's
this will do to the careers of Cuba Gooding Jr. and Anthony
Hopkins, I dunno. Gooding is an okay actor, with enough
good roles in the past to support him, and Hopkins has done
wonderfully with every film up until now. I am reminded
at this time of a moment from late last year, in which he
promised the world that his career was on the verge of retirement.
At the time, the idea seemed crazy; why would a terrific
actor like Hopkins want to retire?
we see why. He had probably seen the final version of "Instinct"
right before he made that decision.
1999, David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org.
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